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Joseph Hebden's Story, 1826

Joseph Hebden was born in Bolton, Lancashire, in 1807. His early life is unknown. His mother was Mary Hebden, but at the moment nothing is known of his father. He appears to have been living with with his Uncle Anthony. He ran away from "home" on the 30th April 1826. This is his written account, in his own words.

Joseph Hebden died in 1888 in West Derby, Liverpool. His descendants are alive today. To see Joseph's family tree chart click here


Transcription of the manuscript by Joseph Hebden, No. 248, sometime Hospital sergeant with the 35th Regiment.

 Note on inside cover:        Ann born at 10 minutes past two p.m. 13th April 1834     J.H.

  A sketch of my travels since I left my Uncle Anthony - my cause for doing so I had better keep it for quietness but I had very good reason to my thinking….  I resolved to face the world for a better place, but a worse I knew I could not meet with.

 On Sunday 30th April (1826) at 5pm I went out for a walk, and returning about 9 o’clock and finding the door locked I came away and then resolved to leave Whittle in Lancashire I went to Preston in the same County. It was about 11 o’clock, I got into a stable for the purpose of taking rest. The kind farmer gave me a good supper and told me I need not fear I should take no harm. I laid me down and he covered me with three or four bundles of straw. Next morning, 1st May 1826 I left this farmhouse and though the day I look about me in Preston.  About 1 o’clock I left Preston and got on the Lancaster Road for Lancaster; I laid me down about 11 o’clock in a barn between Preston and Lancaster fear of the farmer hearing me, I got out about 2 o’clock the next morning the 2nd of May and meeting with a friend that gave me a part of his breakfast I told him that I was looking for work. He took me in a publick house in Lancaster & gave me a part with him. I then went through Lancaster and between Lancaster and Skipton I slept all night in a haystack.

On the 3rd of May I went through Skipton and being overdone for want of rest &a I sat down on a stone a little way from Appletree Wick I was wakened by a farmer that was going for hire and he asked me what I was about. I told him that I was out of work, he then asked me to go with him. I did so, and stopped with him until the 3rd June. My work with him for this month was to look after the cattle, go with a cart, and drive the horses before the plough; on the 1st June he had no more to set me to 1st. I then left this place and went to Rippon. It was Rippon Fair. I stopt in the streets of Rippon all night. Early on the 2nd I was on my way to Leeds. I got into a wagon and rode about 14 miles between this and Leeds. I slept in a Haystack.

On the 3rd in Leeds I went in a field and slept about 3 hours on my way to a small village. I slept at the side of some brick hills in Seacroft all night. I stopt there all Sunday the 4th June 1826 and on the 5th June I went to York through Tadcaster and in a barn the outside of York from Leeds I slept on a stool. I suppose it was the milk stool. On the morning of the 6th I came to York again and thinking to enlist.

I went to a soldier of the 2nd Queens. He said I was to low I then came away and not knowing what to be at I tried to get work but could not get any. I then came out of York and on my way back to Leeds I thought I had better enlist. I got into Leeds about 5 o’clock and meeting with a traveler he told me he would find a man who would enlist me, so I went with him about 7 o’clock. I was enlisted for the 60th Rifles and not being tall enough I was the next day the 7th June handed over to Sergeant Clough for the 35th Regiment. I was then inspected by the Medical gentleman or Surgeon at Horse Bks. I was attested the same evening at 6pm for the 35th Regiment. I then being a soldier I got as billet at the Sign of the Pine apple 6th June 1826 where I then remained until 6th July.

Morning of the 6th July along with 41 other recruits to Wakefield. 

7th July: To Barnsley.

 8th July: To Sheffield. Whe stopt here all Sunday. I sold my billet as the landlady did not like our Compy  moony. My present comrade who was both a little simple and knew nothing of Sheffield who stopt both Saturday and Sunday night by some brick hills by the houses. On the morning of 10th July 1826 to Chesterfield.

 11th      Mansfield

12th      Nottingham

13th      Loughborough

14th      Lester

15th      Lutterworth

Remained 16 at Lutterworth

17th July to Southam

18th  “     “  Banbury

19th July 1826 to Dunchurch

20th   “      “     to Woodstock

21st    “     “          Habingdon

22nd   “     “          Market Elsly

23rd  Stoped it being Sunday

24th July 1826   Newbury

25th    “      “      Whitchurch

26th    “      “      Whinchester

Went into Barracks and got a part of my regimental necessaries the same evening. Stopt in Whinchester until the 2nd August 1826 at 2am I was ordered on fatigue to help load the baggage wagon and about 5 o’clock am marched out of Winchester for Bishop Walton and stopt all night. Early on the morning of 3rd of August 1826 marched through Wickham and halted at Farnham for breakfast after breakfast to fort-mongton Barracks.

3rd August 1826 – stopt here until the 6th of Novand then relieved by the 28th Depot and whent to Forton Barracks.

I stopt there under orders for the West Indies on the 2nd Dec1826. Embarked on board the Marshall Bennett for to spit Head whe remained at spit Head until the 15th on account of the wind being so much against us when on the 15th it blew fair for us and whe set sail. Whe saw Madeira about the 9th day or 26th December, where whe was becalmed; For 3 days we sailed then, without meeting anything  particular untill the 17th January 1827 and about midday hearing a gun fire thought whe was going to be attacked with a pirot.  Our captain ordered all the men to be armed ready in number about 180 men; 80 and 20 men belonging to the 35th and 80 men belonging to the 27th  and 20 men belonging to the 60th Rifles, but unfortunately it turned out to be a French brig that was sinking. 2 or 3 of their hands had taken the jolly boat to sea and left others in her, which of course would soon have sunk in the deep. Our Captain aild her and hearing what she was, the first mate and about six other sailors whent on board of her, among those 6 that whent the carpenter was one. Our captain of course came back to his own vessel, the Marshall Bennett, and laid to all night. Her crew, all of them came on board and left the vessel to the first mate and six men. However next morning there was a little hope, they had got the water all cleared off the deck, Next day, I believe there was only two foot of water between the decks. 

Our Captain, considering her then safe, told the first mate to steer for St. Vincent, he said he would steer for Barbadoes. Whe then parted and arrived in Barbadoes Harbour or Carlish Bay in West Indies on Saturday 20th January 1827. Whe laid in Barbadoes Harbour untill 23rd January.

The 60th Rifles whent on shore in Barbadoes, but no other, on the 23rd at 8 p.m.

Sailed for St. Lucia on the 24th.

Early on the morning of the 25th close by Pigeon Island.

Anchored in St. Lucia Harbour at ½ past ten a.m. 25th January 1827, and disembarked in the afternoon at 3 o’clock the same day.

I was then attached to the Light Infantry Company a week, and then put to No.3 (company) - had been broken up before the arrival of this detachment and of course this company was formed again. The whole of this 80 recruits was confined to Barracks for two years. At first, during my first year in the West Indies I do not know as anythink worth notice occurred. It was a very sickly season and I suppose about 20 of this 80 men soon became no more in the world. Thank God I never had any sickness worth notice up to my first Christmas Day in St Lucia and on the 25th December 1827 I was cook for my second and last time in No.3 Compy, previous to my promotion commencing on the 14th January 1828. I was appointed to Lance Corporal in No. 3 Company & this being the first step of promotion Endeavoured to keep it. There was 4 more appointed at the same time; viz – Bootheroyd, J. Sweeden  and W. Sweeden, Renshaw, of these the latter is the only one that got to Sergeant. This first B, has since been reduced from Corporal and 14th January 1834 is doing Pt duty the Sergt. died in Barbado after the hurricane in Barbado also J.S and W.S. has been since dischd by purchase by Capt. Karr who has resired the Service. After doing duty until the 12th April 1828 at St. Lucia, I was ordered to Pigeon Island on the 12th to relieve Sgt. Naylor.

 I was now attached to the Grenadiers to act as the Sergt. I was relieving to pay them &a which of course I did – also about 45 men of No.3 doing this with every satisfaction to Sergts Yates and Lovitt. I was made full Corporal on the 18th September 1828, and on the 2nd October1828 sent to St. Lucia to do duty as before with my Company. In this year there was a great scarsity of water. The military labourer was ordered to fetch water about three miles from the barracks for the troops, but nothing particular occurred in my time in St. Lucia. I was appointed Sergeant in No.2 Company and to be under orders for Dominica.

On the 4th July 1829, I embarked on board the Duke of York, a brigantine so called, along with 6 taylors and 5 more Sergts belonging to this Corps, who arrived in Dominica on the 5th July and disembarked the same day 1829. A few days after my arrival, I was taken very ill with bowel complaint or dysentery chronic; from which I did not recover on this island. On the 24th February in tents in Dominica for the 93rd to take over the Barracks, and on the 25th February 1830 embarked on board a transport ship called the William Harris and sailed at 7pm the 26th February 1830 for Barbadoes.

27th February: In close to Martinique

28th February: Near the Diadem Rock

1st March:         “       “        “         “  Close to Martinique also this day, beating about against the current.

2nd Across to St. Lucia

3rd  Back again to Diadem Rock and

4th between St Lucia and Martinique

 5th   Out of sight of these two Islands

 6th March 1830; Arrived in Barbadoes Harbour at 4pm Saturday, and on Sunday 7th March 1830 disembarked at 7am and went into the Stone Barracks. The Hd. Quarters embarked at St Lucia on the 12th and arrived in Barbadoes on the 13th March 1830. Our Sergts gave a ball to the Sergts. of the 27th on the 2nd June 1830, the Sergts. of the 27th gave a ball on the 23rd June 1830. I think both of theses were the best compys. That I ever met with in the army.

 On the 29th June a pass to Bridgetown.  

On the 1st July a Letter from my sister dated 29th.

On the 1st July a letter from my father dated Manchester post on the 31st May 1830.  

6th July on the King’s House Guard I saw the flagstaff hoisted up by the military labourers. It is about 30 feet high and just opposite to the King’s House, attended by two of the Artillery.

The letter of readiness read to us on Parade on the evening of 12th August for Portsmouth England. Received a letter from John Greenhalgh of the First Royal Regiment of Trinidad on the 18th August 1830.

On the 1st  October 1830 appointed Hospital Sergeant in place of Sergt Rice who took my company duty but had very little charge of the hospital. AST Murry had all the charge and everything himself. Of course, I had very little to do with anything at that time.


Map of the West Indies and Barbados, where Joseph Hebden arrived on the 20th January 1827, and left for Portsmouth on the 23 February 1832, arriving in Portsmouth on the 21st March 1832

 On the 9th December 1830 I began courting with a Servant of the Commanding Officer’s Lady, and asked leaf to marry on the 24th January 1831. I was married on the 5th May in my own room or quarters at the hospital. Her maiden name was Jane Brown, a native of Whitby in Yorkshire, England.

On 11th August 1831 a dreadful hurricane came on about 2am and the wind blew so strong as all the Hospital fell in. Also, every house that stood on the island was either unroofed or totally blown to the ground. I suppose the soldiers’ barracks was about the strongest buildings on the Island, except the King’s House, and these were all blown down. The houses of the town principally consisted of wood – of course these were soon blown away, but I do not know that it was so safe in a brick house, for it even blew the trees of the island up by the roots. For instance, about five large tamrin trees were blown up in the Hospital yard. A good many of the men escaped under them. The Regiment on the 11th August 1831 pitched camps and stoped in them until the 7th December 1831. The recovery transport arrived in Barbadoes on the 18th December with the Hd Quarters of the 69th Regiment

On 19th December 1831 sailed for St. Vincent

On 4th February 1832 Recovery arrived in Barbadoes from the Leward with the Hd Quarters of the 93rd. The head Quarters of the 35th Regiment at Barbadoes embarked on board the recovery transport on the 11th February 1832 and sailed for St. Lucia. on the same day at 4pm.

On 12th February at 10am in Harbour at St Lucia. Left St Lucia at 5pm for the Leward islands 12th inst.

13th February 1832 past Dominica, Gardilope Antigua.

14th Monserat, Nevis St Kitts Stacia Sabo. Laid to all night.

15th February 1832, In St. Kitts harbour – for the purpose of taking some stores.

18th Inst, on shore at St. Kitts. Received from Saml. Whitely, Lance Bombardier of the Artillery, a carved cocanut. I was in company with  Pt. Padgett a tailor and Sergt Duckworth of the Artillery also Act. or master Sergt Gipp of the 86th Regt. I was on prince Wales battery or Basthill and Fort Georges Battery up 27 Steps East place of  arms Battery west place of arms Battery Barrier Bast Hill and Lower Battery Monky Hill Battery. I was then shown into the Barracks of the Artillery. The main tanks 3 in number and Green tank. I was round the officers’ quarters and the whent down to the Hospital to receive some medicine for the use of our ship and then on board.

On the 20th sailed from St. Kitts past Stacia Sabo and Low Islands.

21st past some low islands called Virgin Isles. Whe was very near on the sands near thes Islands. Whe arrived in Tattoola this same day. Laid in Tattoola one day and rwo nights and sailed early on the morning of the 23rd for Portsmouth. A very good breeze at the rate of 12 nots and hour.

24th  12 nots an hour

25th  12 nots an hour

26th  Calm

27th  Calm

28th Calm about 3 knots an hour

29th Calm

1st March 1832 calm until about 6 pm a breeze about 8 nots an hour. At 8pm, wind fair 12 knots an hour

2nd good breeze

3rd good breeze

4th A good strong breeze

5th  Strong breeze very rough

6th very strong wind

7th very strong wind

8th  good breeze, 12 nots

9th from 14 to 16 nots an hour

10th good wind. – This wind continued favourable and on the morning of 19th March in sight of land at 8 am. One of the King’s Pilots came on board to conduct us through The Needles. Whe whent through The Needles at 10pm. At anchor in Mother Banks  near Isle of Wight at 11 o’clock pm. On the morning of 20th March 1832 in Currentone. Our Currentone flag was pulled down at 2 o’clock same day.

On 21st towed into Portsmouth Harbour by a steam packet. I went on shore to Portsmouth the same evening.  On the morning of the 22nd the regiment disembarked to Forton Barracks.

Remained in Gosport at Forton Barracks until 12th may, when a sudden rout came and ordered the Regiment to march in two hours time this Saturday at 11 o’clock. The Regiment was marched out of the Barracks at one, same day to Bishupwalton.  Subday to Whinchester, 14th to Farnham and get breakfast, then to Alton and stopt all night.

15th Alford, breakfast, and then to Bagshot – stopt here until Tuesday 22nd May 1832, at 8 we marched for Windsor. Stopt in Windsor all night, 23rd  to high wicomb.

24th to Ailsbury

25th Winslow

26th Stoney Stratford, stopt all Sunday 27th - 28th to Northampton to Barracks. Stopt here until the morning of the 10th July, I then went to Weedon and took over the Hospital at Weedon. 

10th July 1832, The Regiment then got the rout for Manchester in Lancashire:

On 19th July I then had charge of the sick with the baggage by cannel we arrived in Manchester on the morning of the 28th July on Saturday. Remained all Sunday.

On Monday 29th to Bolton.  I stopt all night at the Horse Shoe in Bank Street.

On 31st July 1832 to Blackburn. Remained in Blackburn until the 2nd May 1834.

3rd May I then whent to Chorley. My sister and wife went to Bolton along with my father. I stopt in Chorley all the 4th and took the coach on the 5th for Preston and then to Ormskirk. The same day I saw PC McDonnell Laying about two miles from this town after shooting himself –

On  the 6th May to Liverpool and embarked on board the steamer Earl of Roden for Dublin and sailed about 7 o’clock in the evening. About 12 at night a very strong breeze blew and took away the topmast. Whe arrived safe in Dublin about ½ past 7pm on the 7th May and disembarked the same night to the Royal Barracks. The colours of the 35th Regiment was presented by Lady Genl  Vivian on the 21st July 1834 in Hibernian School Yard, in the Phoenix Park , Dublin.

Remained in Dublin until the 25th October. On the 25th to Neece, stopt all Sunday the 26th.

On the 27th to Arthy

On the 28th October 1834 to Abeleyx. Remained here at Abeliyx 29th.

On the 30th to Templemore, the Headquarters. Stopt all night at Rathdowney.

I arrived at Templemore on the 31st October 1834. Templemore is a very riotous place, though a very small village. I left Templemore on the morning of  6th April 1835 in the coach to Dublin.  Arrived in Dublin the same day at 7pm. And whent up to Sergt. Pratt 3rd Dragoon Guards, and stopt all night. Whent up and down Dublin next day 8th April until 5pm when whe embarked on the steamer for England. Arrived in Liverpool next morning at 5 am the 9th April 1835. Then got my luggage up to the railway and got in Bolton at 12 o’clock the same day. I stopt a few days at my father’s and then took a house and began to sawe with Fredk Garstang.

I worked a few months with him, and the whent to Ormrod’s factory on sawing for 7 or 8 weeks and then whent to Whitifield a working but nothing more particular until the 30th April 1836 when I made an agreement with William Sower for 2 years as a joiner. I only stopt better than 12 months with Mr Sower on consequence of his not having any work. I then whent to Mr. Walsh’s shop and only stopt 4 weeks in consequence of wages. I then whent to Mr. Baron’s where I got £1. 2sh per week and work being slack obliged to leave. I was then out of work a few weeks and on the 4th of October set off on a tramp with 7 shillings in my pocket arrived in Bolton the same day, being Wednesday, and stopt all night.

On the 5th whent to Bury to Limefield Factory about 3 miles towards Manchester and then to Rotchdale same day and stopt all night.

On the 6th to Halifax and then got 3d. of Bread and Cheese and then to Leeds 32 miles from Rochdale. Arrived in Leeds about 9pm, and being rather low in pocket, walked all night to York. Arrived in York about 7am instant and rather tired, having come from Rotchdale to Halifax 16 miles; Halifax to Leeds 16 miles; and from Leeds to York 24 miles. To a farm 2 miles from the latter York being 58 miles without rest and on 3d. of bread and cheese. I asked the farmer to allow me to sleep a few hours in his barn, which I did, I got up about 12 the same day 7th October 1837 and walked about 6 miles and slept and has 3d. of bread and cheese and 2 glasses of Ale and then whent to Malton 19 miles from York, and from Malton to Pickering 9 miles the same day and stopt all night at the Blue Bell in Pickering and had 2 or 3 glasses of Ale at night. On the morning of the 8th October, set out for Whitby 21 miles from Pickering and got 3d. of bread and cheese at Psalters Gate and 2 glasses of Ale and got to Whitby at 2pm.

In Barber gate and whent to the Angel Inn and had 1 glass of Ale, I then whent to find my mother in law, but she was not in. I whent with my wife’s sister Margaret, though a stranger, to where she was, I then enquired after work but could get none. I then sent a letter for some money to bring me back, and received it on Wednesday the 13th. I went on the pier & sands and in the churchyard up 94 steps and I think all over Whitby the few days I was in it. It is a very small town though verry populous for the size of it.

I came from Whitby on the 14th October same year by the railway to Pickering and by coach to York I arrived in York about ½ past one and then walked to Leeds about 24 miles same day 24th October 1837. I then stopt all night at a very respectable lodging.

15th being Sunday stopt all day in Leeds, I whent to the the Pine apple where I was billeted in 1826 when I enlisted for a soldier and saw the same landlord as when I left, but he did not know me.

Monday the 16th October Left Leeds for Halifax and got in Halifax about 2 the same day then got 3d. of Beer, whent forward to Rochdale and stopt all night. I spent the last ½d. in Rochdale, coming home on the 17th , got to Bolton at 2pm, got a good dinner at my father’s, I stopt all night in Bolton and on the 18th came to Blackburn

Here the narrative stops. Joseph seems to have returned to the life of family man. His son John was born in Bolton in 1838, and his descendants are still around in the Stockport area.

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